(Photo Credit: IndianaHQ)
SOUTHPORT, IN — After earlier games for Indiana, Louisville, and Kentucky, the three head coaches met up in Southport, Indiana for the 6th FORUM Tip Off Classic event.
Archie Miller had the least amount of travel distance as Indiana defeated Louisville earlier in the day. John Calipari and the Wildcats did not have the same fortune as he flew from New York with a 1 point overtime loss against Seton Hall. Michigan State handled a road trip down all the way in Tallahassee against Florida.
One by one, the coaches filed in.
In the earlier set of games, 2019 Purdue signee Mason Gillis of New Castle battled against Brownsburg. Unfortunately for Gillis, his New Castle team was blown out by a tough and well-coached Brownsburg team who took the game 73-41.
A pair of 2020 players with interest from Indiana played in the following game between Hamilton Southeastern and Culver Academies. For HSE, 7’1″ Mabor Majak tagged with Aaron Etherington, who is the brother of former Indiana and Butler guard Austin Etherington. Culver featured coach’s son Tre Galloway who is a 6’3″ SG. According to Trevor Andershock of IN Basketball Source, Majak finished with 11 and Galloway finished with 9. Etherington led all scorers with 18 points and added 6 boards to his performance.
At the 6:40 pm tip, 2019 Indiana signee Armaan Franklin sparred with one his close friends and Purdue signee Isaiah Thompson. Thompson is the brother of former Purdue point guard PJ Thompson. With multiple lead changes and countless ties, the tight race between Cathedral and Zionsville finally fell in the favor of Cathedral. Franklin and Thompson both led their respective teams in scoring, contributing 27 a piece per Andershock.
The battle of guards in the future between Indiana and Purdue is going to get a lot more fun. Armaan Franklinshowed his ability to not only shoot the deep ball for his team, but also his ability to penetrate and finish at the rim. While he is currently playing more of a hybrid wing role for Cathedral due to his size, he has the ability to control the ball very well and attack only when appropriate. Noteworthy, he shows the potential to guard at the Big Ten level, although not quite there yet. In one-on-one situations, Franklin can really keep up with anyone that he is assigned to and at the very least he will force a difficult shot.
Isaiah Thompson on the other hand also has the ability to drill the threes; however, his ball handling craftiness headlines his capabilities. Very similar to his older brother PJ, Thompson can “get small” and sneak into occupied lanes. While he still has room to improve finishing at the rim (every player in high school does and even at the next level – see Justin Smith), Thompson got there and that is important. Purdue fans will be lucky to have his services possibly for four years.
In the marquee matchup of the evening, 2019 signee Trayce Jackson-Davis of Center Grove HS matched up against Indiana’s powerhouse prep school La Lumiere, featuring 2019 Indiana targets Keion Brooks Jr. and Isaiah Stewart(recently removed Indiana from his list). The pair of friends and AAU teammates in TJD and Keion talk regularly about recruiting and other things.
For Center Grove High School, the offense that ran through five-star Trayce Jackson-Davis was most effective. Of course. That being the guard plays for the Trojans surprised many scouts in the gym. While not the most athletic players on the court, Zach Hahn created sets that opened up lanes and buckets for the Center Grove backcourt. Trayce’s younger brother Tayven had several solid drives himself.
But when things got tough, Trayce Jackson-Davis was the go to person on offense. Rare do you see in bigs, but Trayce is really the floor general for the Center Grove team. The CGHS backcourt uses Trayce’s wideframe like a giant wall and run multi-pick actions at the elbow. When people are not in the correct spots, Trayce is the first to let his teammates know. There were points in the game where he truly willed his way to the bucket. Notably in the corner against Isaiah Stewart, Trayce jabbed into a monstrous, palmed dunk with his left.
Trayce Jackson-Davis battled against senior Jakov Kukic to start the game, before La Lu substituted in the beast of Isaiah Stewart. The battle of the centers down low was truly big boy ball. Trayce with posts and dunks was met with Stewart’s own posts and dunks. Stewart has the body of a grown man. In fact, it is not a far reach to say that he is more in shape that current professionals. At 6’9″, nobody was brave enough to engage Stewart on defense except Trayce.
Keion Brooks Jr. shot the ball very well and it certainly makes sense why UK coach John Calipari thinks that Keion should be used as a tall guard. He can handle the ball fairly well considering his size, but ultimately he’s able to stroke the ball. Keion Brooks Jr. made his living behind the arc in Southport.
While the three five-star bigs truly stood out, 2022 Indiana target Kamari Lands also got action. He took more of a backseat role in this game, but it was still important for Archie Miller to watch him play minutes. Lands visited Hoosier Hysteria earlier this year.
In the end, La Lumiere pulled away with a victory 62-48. Stewart finished with a double-double off the bench for the Lakers. Keion added an almost double-double with 22 points and 9 boards. Trayce Jackson-Davis now has back-to-back losses and hopes to refocus his Center Grove team after his 18 point performance.
In closing, what a terrific event for fans of high school ball, college ball, Indiana ball, and just basketball in general. Ten dollars for access to a full day’s worth of games is definitely well spent, and the event was ran extremely smoothly. Games were ahead of schedule and teams knew exactly where they needed to be. We highly recommend fans to check out next year’s showcase.